Two women from Barren County who played significant roles in the fields of flight and education are being honored this weekend. The Kentucky Historical Society will dedicate markers in honor of Nettie Depp and Willa Brown Chappell.
"Chappell was the first African-American woman to earn her pilot's license in the U.S., and that was in 1937," said Becky Riddle, with the Kentucky Historical Society. "She also was the first African-American officer in the Civil Air Patrol, and the first American woman to hold both a mechanic's license and commercial pilot's license."
Chappell was co-founder of the National Airmen's Association of American, which worked to get African-Americans into the U.S. Air Force. In 1940, she co-founded the Coffey School of Aeronautics, which trained black pilots. Some of those pilots went on to be Tuskegee Airmen.
Nettie Depp in 1913 became the first female public official in Barren County, and served as superintendent of county schools from 1914 to 1917. Depp helped lead efforts to unify local schools and create Barren County's first four-year high school, housed in the former Liberty College.
The Kentucky Historical Society is forming a new relationship with the Smithsonian Institution.
Historical Society officials say the affiliation will provide opportunities for innovative collaborations and will help secure the loan of Smithsonian artifacts and traveling exhibitions. The affiliation is to be announced on Saturday evening by Harold A. Closter, director of Smithsonian Affiliations.
That announcement will be part of the Historical Society's annual Boone Day celebration.
There are currently 177 Smithsonian affiliates in 42 states, Puerto Rico and Panama. Affiliation provides enhanced access to the more than 136 million objects in the Smithsonian collections, as well as the knowledge and experience of the scholars and experts at the Smithsonian.
Established in 1996, Smithsonian Affiliations is a national outreach program that develops partnerships with museums and educational and cultural organizations.
Kentucky author Wendell Berry has donated his papers to the Kentucky Historical Society, saying he wants to honor the late historian Thomas Clark, for whom the Center for Kentucky History is named. The society says the papers include 75 boxes of published and unpublished writings, research materials and incoming correspondence.
The Kentucky Historical Society is releasing a smartphone app so users can find out more about the state's historic sites. The Explore Kentucky History app connects historical markers, related items in the Historical Society's collections and user-submitted images and stories to points of interest on a map.
A partnership between the Kentucky Historical Society and Kentucky schools is in the works, with help from a $110,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The Historical Society says the money will be used to create a curriculum called "The Right Answer."
More than two dozen 19th century letters have been acquired by the Kentucky Historical Society, which says the handwritten documents offer a look at African-American communities in Lexington and Hopkinsville.